Nickelback have a new single out, named ‘Feed The Machine’, which will feature on their ninth album, due in June, and also titled Feed The Machine because consistency is important.
Nickelback are an obvious target for all the obvious reasons, but simply dismissing their new music would be to fall into the trap of hating something simply because it is popular and safe to do so. Nickelback probably have a song about the haters, or about not listening to what people say, and if they do, this type of thing is exactly what they were talking about in that song – the one about the haters.
With this in mind, we decided to review ‘Feed The Machine’ completely on its own merits, without the baggage that comes along with a new Nickelback single.
The band also have a huge American tour booked; for space reasons we obviously can’t publish all the dates, but they do play the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati on August 9, so get along to that if you are in the area. Check out our review, below the video.
The opening drums are brutal, but brutal in a very calculated way, where you know he played the same drum pattern for six hours, the engineer comped together the best takes, and lined up the sound waves in Pro Tools so they line up perfectly and precisely with the bass track, which will also be recorded and digitally manipulated in a similar way. So exactly that brutal. What else? The riff is dialled in diet-metal, sure, but it’s one of those dark riffs that would make you feel like you were in the first Matrix film or something should you happen to be hearing it while walking down a corridor with purpose in a trench-coat. So far, so good.
“Baiting every hook with filthy lies” sounds like the type of line that a depressed 15-year-old would love. You know the type: angry at the world, and how his neighbours and parents can focus on the bills and weekend soccer games while the world falls apart. That kid would love that line, and probably scrawl it on his pencil case. Do school kids have pencil cases still?
The chorus is big and anthemic and about feeding the machine – the irony of which I would really dwell on if the conceit of this review wasn’t to come at this without prior knowledge. The weird drum-tumble pattern stops this chorus from truly soaring in the way other Nickelback choruses soar: where you can imagine RSL clubs at 11pm, filled with mismatched drunken people singing along, warm beer lapping over the edges of plastic cups, Xmas lights in March, all of it. You can’t really imagine this becoming one of those type of choruses, sadly – and I’ve got to assume on some level the band knows this.
“Will you become the fuel for sacrifice?” asks Kroeger earnestly in the second verse, and if I was at that stage in life where I ask such loaded questions about the world and my place in it, this would be a line that made me think. Instead I’m thinking about ground up mice, as this was in the preceding line, and it’s just kinda gross – not “I like your pants around your feet” level gross, but still gross. Nickelback are good at being gross, and I do think this is part of their appeal.
I also think they think they are Tool, and have been taking unsuccessful steps towards convincing others of this for many years now. Maybe they have given up on being Tool, but maybe that’s the reason for the overly-complicated drum pattern in the chorus, the digitally-drenched riff breakdown, and the sudden lyrical focus on machinery of the dystopic type.
Still, this will be another biggish hit. They know how to feed the machine. “Why must the blind lead the blind?” this song asks, and again, I must fight not to point out the irony.